The history of the French in India has received far less scholarly attention than that of other European nations; English historiography, in particular, has often treated it as no more than a preliminary to the extension of British power. In addition, work hitherto has tended to focus on the trade with Europe, not the Asian trade - the 'country trade' carried on within Asia; the full importance of this trade for the Dutch and British is now being recognised. This book represents the first sustained study of French activities in Asian trade, and fills this gap in the historiography. Catherine Manning is concerned to relate the French traders to their social, regional and financial roots, and to trace their connections with other commercial groups in India, both European and Asian. The French evidence that she assembles, including much archival material, also makes a significant contibution to the debate about economic decline and renewal in 18th-century India. Her analysis stresses the importance of the Indian context, and shows that economic and political developments in South India were crucial to the French move from trade to war in the 1740s. Finally the book examines why the French failed in an enterprise which was to succeed so signally for the British only a few decades later.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Maps; The Asian scene: politics and trade, 1700-50; The French Company, 1664-1748; The French community in India; French country trade: the Company and the private traders; The French partner; The European and Christian partner; The Indian partner; The Westward routes; The Eastern routes and inland trade; From trade to war; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
'Fortunes Ã Faire is solidly based on an exhaustive study of the archival material preserved in France and elsewhere. Often these records yield extremely valuable information. ' The International History Review, Vol. XX, No. 1 'More than many other scholarly studies, this one may entertain the serious general reader as well as the specialist. Along with an abundance of information, there is much amusing human detail concerning the exotic world of the merchants in those remote seas.' American Historical Review